Labour ministry reveals cost-cutting plans

Social Democratic (SPÖ) Labour Minister Rudolf Hundstorfer has announced plans to cut the budget of courses offered to jobless people.Hundstorfer said yesterday (Tues): “It must not happen anymore that someone sits a course such as ‘How do I apply for a job best?’ three times.”The minister announced all courses offered by the Labour Market Service (AMS) will be checked to ensure their efficiency. He revealed the plan was to cut the budget spent on the courses by 100 million Euros.Opposition parties have for months criticised the government’s actions over the matter.Greens and Freedom Party (FPÖ) leaders accused the coalition of SPÖ and the conservative People’s Party (ÖVP) of “hiding” unemployed people by letting them sit “pointless” AMS re-education courses since some labour market statistics did not consider these people as unemployed.Currently, around 70,000 people living in Austria sit such courses.Hundstorfer vehemently defended their purpose recently. He argued research has shown that one in two of the 84,000-odd unemployed people on these courses in 2009 found a new job within three months.Austria has the second-lowest unemployment rate in the European Union (EU) with 4.9 per cent after the Netherlands where just 4.1 per cent are out of work. The current EU average is 9.6 per cent.Figures showed that 3,255,601 people had work in Austria in April, up by 0.5 per cent compared to the same month in 2009.Hundstorfer claimed he recently registered signals of an improvement of the situation at the labour market, adding that the key to finding a job was education as 40 per cent of unemployed Austrians only have a compulsory school qualification.ÖVP Finance Minister Josef Pröll said earlier this year all ministries will have to make cuts to reduce the state debt and budget deficit until 2013 to match the EU’s Maastricht criteria.”I want the ministries to negotiate cost-cutting opportunities without any taboos,” he explained.